Posted in Five Star Reads

Five of the Best (April 2014 to April 2018)

5 Star Reads

In 2015 to celebrate reviewing for five years I started a series entitled Five of the Best where I chose my favourite five star reads which I’d read in that month. Later in 2018 I will be celebrating Five years of blogging and so I decided it was time to repeat the series.

You can read my original review of the book featured by clicking on the book cover.

My choice of review for April 2014 is Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly. This psychological thriller had me absolutely gripped. The plot concerns two friends and following a bit of domestic trouble Natty returns home to find here previous loyal and loving husband Sean, has fallen in love with her best friend Eve. The compulsive angle of the book stems from the observation of how the two women play their respective hands from here on in, That alongside some brilliantly  flawed characters including some wonderful secondary ones; my favourites being the Policewoman Joanne Aspinall and her aunt Jackie as well as Natty’s father Ken. These true to life people served to add another layer of enjoyment to the story

Blurb

Your best friend isn’t who you think she is.

You’ve been friends since university, when you became the people you are today.

You don’t see each other enough but when you do it’s as if you’ve never been apart.

She’s one of the family. You would trust her with your life, your children, your husband.
And when your daughter is rushed to hospital, you’re grateful that she’s stepping in at home, looking after things.

But your best friend isn’t who you think she is. You’re about to find out just how wrong you were. Amazon

Strongly indicating that I read great psychological thrillers in April my five star read for April 2015 was one of the hits of the year; Disclaimer by Renée Knight. When Catherine Ravenscroft comes across a book in her new house she idly picks it up and starts reading, as you do! Imagine her shock when she realises the story is about her, or more specifically, a secret she’s kept for twelve years. The author obviously plays with her reader, swinging the emotions this way and that, but it is so skilfully done, I lapped it all up waiting to find out what surprise she was going to spring on me next.

Blurb

When an intriguing novel appears on Catherine’s bedside table, she curls up and begins to read.

But as she turns the pages she is horrified to realize she is a key character, a main player.

This story will reveal her darkest secret.

A secret she thought no one else knew… Amazon

April 2016 seems to be awash with brilliant books and I have struggled to choose a favourite and finally have decided to feature a book that is not crime fiction, or a psychological thriller.

Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain  by Barney Norris  features five characters whose lives collide. The setting of Salisbury could almost be the sixth character in the book, it’s history resonating through this literary novel. The opening holds a few surprises, but it is worth sticking with flower seller, Rose’s tale as it contains hidden depths which may only become apparent later on…

The triumph of this book was the intersecting of these dissimilar characters, their troubles are their own, the way they deal with those problems are individual and yet there are threads criss-crossing Salisbury that connect them all, some in the past, all in the present. In the hands of a less accomplished writer it would be easy for these connections to feel false, to rely too much on coincidence and yet Barney Norris avoids any clunkiness, there is absolute authenticity in the device as well as the characters.


Blurb

<‘There exists in all of us a song waiting to be sung which is as heart-stopping and vertiginous as the peak of the cathedral. That is the meaning of this quiet city, where the spire soars into the blue, where rivers and stories weave into one another, where lives intertwine.’

One quiet evening in Salisbury, the peace is shattered by a serious car crash. At that moment, five lives collide – a flower seller, a schoolboy, an army wife, a security guard, a widower – all facing their own personal disasters.

As one of those lives hangs in the balance, the stories of all five unwind, drawn together by connection and coincidence into a web of love, grief, disenchantment and hope that perfectly represents the joys and tragedies of small town life. Amazon

 

April 2017 saw me reviewing Little Deaths by Emma Flint. Not only was this fictionalised account of a true crime mesmerising, it set me on a journey of discovering a whole sub-genre of crime fiction.

This is the sad tale of the disappearance, and sad murders of Ruth Malone’s two children. From the beginning Ruth is condemned for her lifestyle, her working class neighbours disapproved of her social life since her separation from the children’s father.

Emma Flint has provided us with one of the most complex of female characters and each incident can be viewed from differing angles and the conclusions made will depend on which one you personally consider to be most realistic. This creation really takes the book way beyond a simple rehash of the crime itself. I felt I knew Ruth, I could both identify with some of her thoughts whilst at other times wonder why she made life quite so hard for herself, after all she was far from stupid – perhaps that was her downfall?

Blurb

It’s the summer of 1965, and the streets of Queens, New York shimmer in a heatwave. One July morning, Ruth Malone wakes to find a bedroom window wide open and her two young children missing. After a desperate search, the police make a horrifying discovery.

Noting Ruth’s perfectly made-up face and provocative clothing, the empty liquor bottles and love letters that litter her apartment, the detectives leap to convenient conclusions, fuelled by neighbourhood gossip and speculation. Sent to cover the case on his first major assignment, tabloid reporter Pete Wonicke at first can’t help but do the same. But the longer he spends watching Ruth, the more he learns about the darker workings of the police and the press. Soon, Pete begins to doubt everything he thought he knew.

Ruth Malone is enthralling, challenging and secretive – is she really capable of murder?

Haunting, intoxicating and heart-poundingly suspenseful, Little Deaths is a gripping novel about love, morality and obsession, exploring the capacity for good and evil within us all. Amazon

My choice for April 2018 is something of a forgone conclusion despite the fact I revieed many enjoyable books this month – Sharon Bolton takes the top spot though for her book set mainly in 1969 in the small town of Sabden in the shadow of Pendle Hill, the place made famous by the witch trials of 1612. The Craftsman is a chilling novel, no doubt about it with missing children, an undertaker and a young, bright WPC anxious to do her best.

We also see the fallout of the murders thirty years later when WPC Florence Lovelady returns to the town to attend the funeral of Larry Glassbrook a coffin maker. Sharon Bolton manages to keep the two versions of the woman completely in sync without losing any of the comparable innocence of the earlier time period. A stunning novel which is seared onto my memory.

Blurb

Devoted father or merciless killer?
His secrets are buried with him.

Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried…ALIVE.

Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves.

Did she get it wrong all those years ago?
Or is there something much darker at play? Amazon

If you want to see what the five books featured on Five of the Best for March 2011 to 2015 were you can do so here

How many of these have you read? Did you enjoy them as much as I did? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Five of the Best 2018

January 2018
February 2018
March 2018

Posted in Books I have read

Cleopatra’s Top 10 Books Published in 2015

Top 10 2015

Well 2015 has provided me with a great selection of books, so good that I originally had 50 (yes 50!!) books that I had awarded the highest five stars too – now even I can’t pretend that 48 books equals 10. What to do? Well as I decided back in 2013 when I started this blog to feature books published in that year I got to discard some of the older books and two got carried forward to next year – that left me with a mere 39 books to select from.

With such a selection to choose from I’ve had to accept that it is inevitable that some great books are not featured this year but I’ve finally settled on my final list which despite me assuming that my best of each month posts would reflect these closely, this exercise has just proved to me that sometimes it is after letting a book settle a while that you realise those that have really made an impact.

This year is particularly crime heavy, even for me but I hope I’ve managed to show what is available across the spectrum, it isn’t all serial killers and missing children you know!

So in no particular order here we go:

If you click on the book covers you can read the full review for each book

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

The Kind Worth Killing

A modern take on Strangers on a Train which is ingenious; Ted and Lily meet in an airport lounge and for a bit of fun Lily suggests they should only tell each other the truth. On the flight Ted reveals that he wants to kill his wife as she has been unfaithful, Lily taking the moral high-ground offers to help him. If you like your book with plenty of twists and turns, this could be just the right book for you.

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica

Pretty Baby

Perhaps you, like me enjoy books that really delve into the psyche of the characters? If so Pretty Baby will provide just that along with a story which will keep you gripped. Heidi decides to befriend a young woman, Willow when she sees her at a train station with a young baby. Unsurprisingly her husband Chris isn’t totally up for the idea especially as Willow and Ruby look like they are becoming a permanent fixture in their lives with little thought for their own daughter Zoe. The placing of the narratives by Chris and Heidi in the past in relation to Willow’s, as told to a third-party, in the present casts a dark shadow over each episode and the full story is gradually revealed.

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse

The only non-fiction choice this year not only had a killer of a title, but it also had one of the most riveting stories I’ve ever read, more so because it was true! The book covers the story behind a number of court cases that spanned a decade which all centred on the belief that Thomas Charles Druce, the owner of a Victorian Bazaar was actually the 5th Duke of Portland, an eccentric and reclusive man. As I say this is a fascinating look at not only the court cases but also gives the reader a glimpse of how real people behaved during the late Victorian and Edwardian periods which isn’t quite how the history books portray it.

Burnt Paper Sky by Gilly MacMillan

Burnt Paper Sky

Ok so now we do have one missing child story for the mix, but there is far more to this book than the heart in the mouth search for a lost child. Set in Bristol this book gave me an idea of what sort of information I react to when I read or see media reports about crime – what triggers in the news cause me to make snap judgements about the truth behind the news? A very clever book that made me think as well as being totally entertaining from an investigative perspective with this unfolding chronologically I needed to know the outcome.
Note readers in the US can read this under the title What She Knew in 2016

Lost Girls by Angela Marsons

Lost Girls

Angela Marsons had her debut novel published in February 2015 and this was her third book featuring the likeable Detective Kim Stone – yes you read that correctly, this is the third in the series. I could easily have included all of her books but this was my favourite premise. More lost children I’m afraid… Two friends are kidnapped but the kidnapper has an extreme way of pushing up the money they will receive, the two sets of parents are pitted against each other! As you can imagine the fallout is spectacular.

Disclaimer by Renée Knight

Disclaimer

Back in April I predicted this book would make my top ten reads of the year, and it has, one book that didn’t need to settle, I knew this was a hit more or less from the first page. It was also one of the hardest to review as there is so little that can be said about the plot without inadvertently spoiling it for others. I liked that the author skilfully manipulated my emotions, over and over again. If you want a book that is full of surprises, choose this book. I have recommended this far and wide (in the real world) and everyone who listened, has loved it!

Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths

Smoke and Mirrors

Missing children again, but this time back in history being set in Brighton in 1951. In the second in the Max Mephisto the book is far more a complex puzzle with a feel of an old-fashioned detective novel with clues rather than forensics at the fore. Tied in with a production of Aladdin there is links to another murder years before all to be solved by a wonderful cast of characters. Fancy trying a different type of crime fiction – this could be for you.

A Game For All The Family by Sophie Hannah

A Game for all the Family

The queen of psychological thrillers completely wowed me with this, a stand-alone novel which had me utterly and completely confused. Now I see you scratching your heads because that doesn’t sound like fun but therein lies the genius of this book. Told in part in a story written by a teenager and part in real-life the writing was thoroughly entertaining even if I couldn’t for the life of me work out what the point was – rest assured there was a point and I don’t think I’ll ever forget this amazing read.

Hidden by Emma Kavanagh

Hidden

Want a mixture of investigative and psychological crime fiction? Hidden opens with a shooting at a Welsh hospital and the descriptions aren’t for the faint-hearted. What follows is an in-depth look at the crime from multiple viewpoints over an ever-changing time period before and after the shooting.. the result is amazing – this complex structure worked, against all odds.

The Hidden Legacy by G.J. Minnet

The Hidden Legacy

This debut novel is another book that has an opener that will become seared on your memory when a young boy sets fire to two girls in a school playground yet the opening is backed up by a thoughtful, deep and in places deeply moving novel with some of the most consistently rounded characters I have ever had the pleasure to read about. With a mystery legacy for one woman and secrets bubbling throughout, this is a book that made me think about all manner of moral questions. Most definitely the surprise hit of the year for me!

So my top ten is just that – ten great books that have stamped themselves onto my memory in a variety of ways.

Book reading and blogging has helped me through the most difficult of years and I am so very grateful for everyone’s support, kind words and friendship which has been absolutely amazing – thank you! Now all that is left to say is Happy New Year to you all! To the authors, please give me some great new books to visitors to my blog, please keep coming and adding your comments.

If you want to see more of the 144 books I’ve read in 2015

Reading and Reviewing in 2015
Reading Bingo for 2015
2015 Book Reviews with linksHNY

Posted in Uncategorized

Reading Bingo for 2015

reading-bingo-small

I had such fun finding books for this challenge last year that I’ve decided to repeat it with books I’ve read in 2015, click on the book covers to read my reviews

A Book With More Than 500 Pages

The Night Watch

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters Despite clocking in at 509 pages, I was bereft when this book finished. A tale told in reverse following three women in three distinct years; 1941, 1944 and 1947. This was an evocative and emotional read as well as being rich in historical detail.

 

A Forgotten Classic

The Go-Betweeen

I came late to the classic The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley. Told mainly through the eyes of 12 year old Leo Coulston as we go back to the year 1900, the year he got entangled with adult passions. This book with pitch-perfect prose had me longing for the story to never end -but end it did in the most shocking fashion, it is very rare to find a book with both a powerful opening and ending rarer still for the pages in between to be so exquisite.

A Book That Became a Movie

Sadly I have nothing for this box either, a few of the books I’ve read this year are going to be made into films, but not yet.

A Book Published This Year

The Kind Worth Killing

It is no surprise that there were lots of contenders for this square so I have picked a five star read; The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. This psychological thriller owes a lot to Strangers on a Train, and has a truly cinematic feel to it. You will struggle to find a character to admire in the whole of the 325 pages, but if you are anything like me you will be interested in what makes them tick!

A Book With A Number In The Title

24 Hours by Claire Seeber is a completely compelling psychological thriller, one to be gobbled up with delight. Laurie is desperate to reach her young daughter Polly in this tale told over 24 hours. With the background being presented in the past tense the present tense ramped up the tension as the hour count increases!

A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty

I really don’t know how old the authors are so nothing for this one.

A Book With Non Human Characters

Nothing for this one either

A Funny Book

Although there are a few books I’ve read that could be described as farcical, I haven’t read any intentionally humorous reads this year.

A Book By A Female Author

The Sudden Departrure of the Frasers

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish
I had so many to choose from for this category but I settled on an author who was ‘new to me’ until I read this book, despite having a large back catalogue. This book details one young woman’s quest to find out what happened to the previous owners of her beautiful new house…

A Book With A Mystery

Smoke and Mirrors

I had quite a few options for this square too so plumped for the magnificent Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths whereby Inspector Stephens investigates the mystery of two missing children against the pantomime Aladdin being performed in the seaside town of Brighton in the 1950s.

A Book With A One Word Title

Disclaimer

There was little doubt about the choice for this one although I had six (all very good reads) to choose from. Disclaimer by Renée Knight, is one of the best books I’ve read this year A fresh take on the psychological thriller where the truth unfolds slowly and what you thought you believed at first is turned on its head. Having widely recommended this book to others, it has been well-received by all who have read it.

 A Book of Short Stories

In a Word

My collection of short stories is In a Word: Murder edited by Margot Kinberg, this book was published in memory of Maxine Clarke, a well-respected book blogger. Included in the submissions many of the stories revolve around the world of publishing. There really is something for everyone in this collection with all well worth a read.

 Free Square

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse

For my free square this year I have decided to go with the book with the longest title: The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell. This non-fiction book examines a court case that started in 1898 when a widow named Anna Maria Druce applied for the exhumation of the grave of her late father-in-law, Thomas Charles Druce. The tale behind this request and the case that rumbled on for a decade is completely fascinating.

A Book Set On A Different Continent

Death in the Rainy Season

Death in the Rainy Season by Anna Jaquiery is set in Cambodia.  I’ve read very little fiction set in Asia, and don’t recall another book set in this country so this seemed like a good choice for this box. Serge Morel is actually on holiday in Cambodia from his native Paris when Hugo Quercy, a French national, is murdered in a hotel room in Phnom Penh. Serge Morel is asked to stay and investigate which gives the reader an insight into how policing works in this country. A good mystery with a multi-layered storyline.

A Book of Non-Fiction

A Fifty Year Silence

My choice for this square is a memoir, and an unusual one at that; A Fifty Year Silence by Miranda Richmond Mouillot follows the author through her childhood memories of her grandparents, two people she didn’t realise had ever been married to each other, and her adult quest to uncover why these Anna and Armand who were Jewish and had been in France at the time of the Second World War, had separated.

The First Book By A Favourite Author

Silent Scream

This author has had her debut, second and third books all published this year, and all three books were awarded five stars by me. Silent Scream by Angela Marsons features DI Kim Stone, a fantastic protagonist, driven seemingly a hard-taskmaster, yet we are shown early on that her team are determined to go the extra mile for her which indicates there is far more to her character. Added to that there are multiple strands to engage the reader along with a satisfying conclusion. What more can a reader ask for?

A Book I Heard About Online

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Since blogging I find most of my new author finds on-line and this book is one of the many I had to have after reading a review and exchanging comments with a fellow blogger.The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald is a book about friendship, being away from home and to be honest a far sweeter book than my tastes normally run with the saving grace it’s laced with humour, and books, and those books are ones we’ve read, not just the ones we think we should have.

A Best Selling Book

The Girl On The Train

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins was the must-read book in 2015 for lovers of psychological thrillers, and surprise, surprise I read it and loved it. Rachel has become transfixed by the life of a couple she views through the train window on her way to work. When the woman disappears Rachel fears the worst but she is hampered in her investigations by her dependence on alcohol. A story where the reader is positively encouraged to trust no-one keeps the tension at fever-pitch!

A Book Based Upon A True Story

Dancing for the Hangman

Dancing for the Hangman is Martin Edwards‘ speculation on what really happened at 9 Hilltop Crescent in 1910. History tells us that Hawley Harvey Crippen murdered his wife, Cora and left part of her remains in the basement, a crime that condemned him to be hanged at Pentonville Prison. A fascinating and well-researched book which has made it impossible for me to separate fact from fiction.

A Book At the Bottom Of Your To Be Read Pile

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows had been on my radar ever since it was published in 2007. Shamefully, since it is written about our sister Channel Island, Guernsey, it has taken me all this time to read this epistolary novel about the German Occupation. I loved this book and from what I know of this period of history in Jersey, it was really well-researched, giving an authentic feel to the story inside its cover.

A Book Your Friend Loves

The Shadow Year

My friend loved The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell, and so did I with its dual time line, the past being the 1980s when five university friends decide to occupy a deserted cottage and live self-sufficiently. In the present we meet Lila who is struggling having recently had a still-birth when she is given an anonymous gift. Both time-lines had great stories with realistic characters.

A Book That Scares You

In a Dark Dark Wood

I rarely get scared by a book but In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware raised a few hairs on the back of my neck! Odd because despite the synopsis warning of a hen party, I didn’t expect quite such a nasty tale, it just goes to show that the fiction that closely imitates fact can be far more deadly than rampaging murderers! This is a book to read while safely curled up in the warm while being very grateful you are not holed up in the glass house in the forest with a group of hens!

A Book That Is More Than 10 Years Old

The Whicharts

I decided to pick the oldest book that I’ve read this year, The Whicharts by Noel Streatfeild, her book for adults that was then altered to create the children’s classic Ballet Shoes. I’ll be honest it was weird reading a book I had loved as a child, only to realise it had a far less positive beginning. A  lot of the pleasure of this book was nostalgic rather than based on this rather unpolished debut adult novel. I fear it has tarnished my memory of Ballet Shoes forever though!

The Second Book In A Series

No Other Darkness

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary is the second in the Marnie Rome series, books which cover important issues in far more depth than is typical of the genre. Two boy’s bodies are found buried in a bunker but who put them there, and why? This author manages the mixture of investigative with the personal live’s of the protagonists just right – definitely a series that I will continue to await with anticipation.

A Book With A Blue Cover

The Hidden Legacy

The Hidden Legacy is the debut novel by G.J. Minett, a book that will challenge you to question important moral questions in an unobtrusive manner. The book starts with one of the most shocking openings I have read this year when an eleven year old boy sets fire to two girls in a school playground back in 1966 but this event will have repercussions through the decades.

How about you? How much of the card could you fill in? Please share!

Posted in 5 Of the Best

Five of the Best (April 2011 to 2015)

5 Star Reads

As I have now been reviewing for over five years I thought I’d highlight my favourite book for each month from 2011 until 2015 to remind myself of the good ones. When we are talking five years ago, they must be good if I still remember them!

2011

Black Flowers by Steve Mosby was one of those books I picked up because it was recommended by Amazon. This is a book within a book and boy what a story it tells! It was far more terrifying than I expected but it is up there in the mental list of books I simply will never forget reading.

Black Flowers

Blurb

This is not a story about a girl who disappears. This is the story of a little girl who comes back. As if from nowhere, she appears one day on a seaside promenade, with a black flower and a horrifying story about where she’s been. But telling that story will start a chain reaction of dangerous lies and deadly illusions that will claim many more victims in the years to come.
Neil Dawson has grown up wanting to be like his father—a writer. When his father commits suicide, he is devastated. But through his grief, Neil knows something isn’t right. Looking through his father’s papers, he finds a copy of an old novel, The Black Flower. Opening it will take Neil into an investigation full of danger, pain and subterfuge. Hannah Price is also mourning her father. She followed his footsteps into the police force, and knows she has a big reputation to live up to. When she gets assigned to Neil’s father’s case, it will lead her on a journey into her own past and to the heart of a shattering secret. Goodreads

2012 yr

In April 2012 I read The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood in one straight sitting as was fascinated of this tale which flips backwards and forwards between the day of murder twenty-five years ago and the present day. With themes of how the media presents a version of the truth and at its heart this was a story about whether there can ever be redemption for those who cause revulsion.

The Wicked Girls

Blurb

One fateful summer morning in 1986, two 11-year-old girls meet for the first time and by the end of the day are charged with murder.
Twenty-five years later, journalist Kirsty Lindsay is reporting on a series of attacks on young female tourists in a seaside town when her investigation leads her to interview funfair cleaner Amber Gordon. For Kirsty and Amber, it’s the first time they’ve seen each other since that dark day when they were just children. But with new lives – and families – to protect, will they really be able to keep their secret hidden? Goodreads

2013yr

What Lies Within by Tom Vowler came to me courtesy of Amazon Vine and I was impressed with the fresh feel that this book bought to the genre with as a prisoner escaping from a nearby jail sparks a series of unforeseen events.

What lies Within

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Living in a remote Devon farmhouse, Anna and her family have always been close to nature, surrounded by the haunting beauty of the moor. But when a convict escapes from nearby Dartmoor prison, their isolation suddenly begins to feel more claustrophobic than free. Fearing for her children’s safety, Anna’s behaviour becomes increasingly irrational. But why is she so distant from her kind husband Robert, and why does she suspect something sinister of her son Paul? All teenagers have their difficult phases… Meanwhile, a young idealistic teacher has just started her first job, determined to ‘make a difference’. But when she is brutally attacked by one of her students, her version of events is doubted by even those closest to her. Struggling to deal with the terrible consequences, she does what she can to move on and start afresh. As the two narratives converge, the tension builds to a devastating denouement, shattering everything you thought you believed about nature, nurture and the true meaning of family. Amazon

2014yr

In April 2014 I read The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, a book I fell in love with from the very first page. A story that painfully but beautifully takes the reader through the aftermath of a doomed affair.The End of the Affair

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

The love affair between Maurice Bendrix and Sarah, flourishing in the turbulent times of the London Blitz, ends when she suddenly and without explanation breaks it off. After a chance meeting rekindles his love and jealousy two years later, Bendrix hires a private detective to follow Sarah, and slowly his love for her turns into an obsession. Amazon

2015yr

April 2015 has been full of great reads but the best of them all is the debut, Disclaimer by Renée Knight which with its unusual premise and brilliant execution has had me recommending this one far and wide since I read it.

Disclaimer

Click on the book cover to read my review

Blurb

Finding a mysterious novel at her bedside plunges documentary filmmaker Catherine Ravenscroft into a living nightmare. Though ostensibly fiction, The Perfect Stranger recreates in vivid, unmistakable detail the terrible day Catherine became hostage to a dark secret, a secret that only one other person knew–and that person is dead.
Now that the past is catching up with her, Catherine’s world is falling apart. Her only hope is to confront what really happened on that awful day even if the shocking truth might destroy her. Goodreads

I hope you have enjoyed my trip through my April reads, if you missed the previous months you can find them here:

January Five of the Best
February Five of the Best
March Five of the Best

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Disclaimer – Renée Knight

Psychological Thriller  5*'s
Psychological Thriller
5*’s

I’m going to start this review with a bold statement – this book will make my top ten reads of 2015. Yes it was so good that I can’t see me coming across ten other books that will beat this one.

So what’s it about? Well as with any book that depends on the reader not knowing very much before they start to appreciate the story, I can’t tell you very much! I can tell you that our chief protagonist, Catherine Ravenscroft has just moved house to a new apartment with her husband Robert when she comes across a novel. Idly picking it up the book entitled Perfect Stranger with the standard disclaimer; any resemblance to persons living or dead scored through with red pen. She starts to read and to her horror she realises it is about her, and more specifically about a secret that she has kept for the last twenty years. All the reader knows at this stage is the secret involves her son Nicholas, their less than successful son, who at Catherine’s instigation has moved into a shared house in a bid to foster some independence and responsibility into his life. Of course the questions raised by the book are what is the secret? And just as importantly who knows and cares enough to write a book about it?

Alternating with Catherine’s narrative we hear from another voice, that of a lonely old man, mourning the death of his wife, Nancy but at last determinedly clearing his house of her belongings, packing her clothes away and giving them to charity shops where he gets given cups of teas and a chance to talk about Nancy.

The reason I enjoyed this book so much was the way that Renee Knight skilfully played on my emotions, changing my opinion of all of the characters who populate this book with an ease that left me reeling. My once certain opinion swept away in a single sentence as another piece of information is casually dropped into the narrative. This is a book of suspense but not of the obvious kind, the tension is palpable and illustrated by Catherine’s actions rather than internal monologues about how scared she is, as she turns from a capable and decisive documentary maker into a scared shadow as she wonders what will follow, how far is the author prepared to go to completely destroy her life? Should she take the ending as a warning, all of these thoughts push real life to the periphery as she valiantly tries to keep the secret under wraps.

Readers that aren’t keen on protagonists they don’t like may well not enjoy this as much as I did but although many of the characters in this book behaved in a way I wouldn’t, at no point did their behaviour seem out of character, they were real people behaving in realistic ways albeit at the edge of their sanity at times and I was utterly convinced.

I’d like to say an enormous thank you to the publishers Random House UK firstly for publishing this book, and secondly for allowing me the great pleasure of reading it. Disclaimer will be published on 9 April 2015 and it is a must for lovers of psychological thrillers.

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week In Books (April 1)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

I am currently reading Disclaimer by Renee Knight which is due to be published on 9 April 2015

Disclaimer

Blurb

What if you realized the book you were reading was all about you?
When an intriguing novel appears on Catherine’s bedside table, she curls up in bed and begins to read.
But as she turns the pages she is sickened to realize the story will reveal her darkest secret.
A secret she thought no one else knew. NetGalley

I have just finished The Ladies of the House by Molly McGrann

My review will follow shortly but you can read the opening paragraph in yesterday’s post.
The Ladies of the house

Next I am planning to read Normal by Graeme Cameron

Normal

Blurb

He lives in your community, in a nice house with a well-tended garden. He shops in your grocery store, bumping shoulders with you and apologizing with a smile. He drives beside you on the highway, politely waving you into the lane ahead of him.
What you don’t know is that he has an elaborate cage built into a secret basement under his garage. And the food that he’s carefully shopping for is to feed a young woman he’s holding there against her will—one in a string of many, unaware of the fate that awaits her.
This is how it’s been for a long time. It’s normal… and it works. Perfectly.
Then he meets the checkout girl from the 24-hour grocery. And now the plan, the hunts, the room… the others. He doesn’t need any of them anymore. He needs only her. But just as he decides to go straight, the police start to close in. He might be able to cover his tracks, except for one small problem—he still has someone trapped in his garage.
Discovering his humanity couldn’t have come at a worse time. Goodreads

What are you reading this week? Please share in the comments box below.

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (December 5)

Friday Finds Hosted by Should be Reading

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

Well another week where NetGalley has been very good at increasing my TBR

I’m delighted to say that I now have a copy of The Zig Zag Girl by Elly Griffiths who has written the series about Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway most recently in The Outcast Dead, the sixth in the series.

Having instantly coveted a copy of this book I was convinced that I had a desperate need to read it following a great five star review on FictionFan’s Book Reviews which you can read here

The Zig Zag Girl

Blurb

Brighton, 1950. When the body of a girl is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is reminded of a magic trick, the Zig Zag Girl. The inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, is an old friend of Edgar’s. They served together in the war as part of a shadowy unit called the Magic Men. Max is still on the circuit, touring seaside towns in the company of ventriloquists, sword-swallowers and dancing girls. Changing times mean that variety is not what it once was, yet Max is reluctant to leave this world to help Edgar investigate. But when the dead girl turns out to be known to him, Max changes his mind. Another death, another magic trick: Edgar and Max become convinced that the answer to the murders lies in their army days. When Edgar receives a letter warning of another ‘trick’, the Wolf Trap, he knows that they are all in the killer’s sights…NetGalley

Next up I have a copy of Lay Me Down by Nicci Cloke which is due to be published 19 February 2015

Lay Me Down

Blurb

What if you can’t outrun your past?
London: 31st December, midnight. For Elsa and Jack, a stolen kiss becomes a shot at real happiness. Eight months later, they board a plane to begin a new life in San Francisco, where Jack has found his dream job working on the Golden Gate Bridge.
But this is not your average boy-meets-girl love story, for Jack’s new job comes with an extraordinary obligation. No one told him about the Jumpers – the men and women who try to leap from the bridge to their deaths every year. One in particular begins to haunt Jack, bringing back memories he thought safely buried. As he becomes more and more preoccupied, and Elsa, alone in a new city, becomes increasingly isolated, both retreat into their pasts, back down the paths that led them to that New Year’s Eve. And the fragile love between them starts to unravel… NetGalley

I am extremely intrigued about my next find Disclaimer by Renée Knight which is due to be published on 9 April 2015.

Disclaimer

Blurb

What if you realized the book you were reading was all about you?
When an intriguing novel appears on Catherine’s bedside table, she curls up in bed and begins to read.
But as she turns the pages she is sickened to realize the story will reveal her darkest secret.
A secret she thought no one else knew… NetGalley

Lastly I have received a copy of a book I’ve seen amazing reviews for around the Blogosphere; Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans.

Crooked Heart

Blurb

When Noel Bostock – aged ten, no family – is evacuated from London to escape the Blitz, he ends up living in St Albans with Vera Sedge – thirty-six and drowning in debts and dependents. Always desperate for money, she’s unscrupulous about how she gets it.
Noel’s mourning his godmother, Mattie, a former suffragette. Brought up to share her disdain for authority and eclectic approach to education, he has little in common with other children and even less with Vee, who hurtles impulsively from one self-made crisis to the next. The war’s thrown up new opportunities for making money but what Vee needs (and what she’s never had) is a cool head and the ability to make a plan.
On her own, she’s a disaster. With Noel, she’s a team.
Together they cook up an idea. Criss-crossing the bombed suburbs of London, Vee starts to make a profit and Noel begins to regain his interest in life.
But there are plenty of other people making money out of the war and some of them are dangerous. Noel may have been moved to safety, but he isn’t actually safe at all… NetGalley

What have you found to read this week? – please share!